Mexican Bird of Paradis

lornasgrandma2000(5)September 15, 2006

Hi All,

I'm just joining this group. I visited my dad in Tucson earlier this month and fell in love with the mexican bird of paradise in his yard. So of course when I got home I had to have one of my own.

I live in Illinois and I think the winters here are too harsh to keep it outside but I'd love to grow one in the house.

I have bought one in the last day or so and now would like some info on keeping it alive. I KNOW I should have done my research before buying but it was a lovely healthy plant and I couldn't walk away without it.

What I need to know now is--- what sort of sun and how much to give it-- do I water often or not so much-- and as it grows do I leave it pot bound or does it prefer more root room???? There are dozens more questions I have but at this time I can't think what they are.

If you all wouldn't mind helping me I'd sure appreciate it.

I also must say, I had never been to Tucson before and was just amazed at how beautiful it is with those mountains right there everywhere you look. I was just awestruck!!!!

Dad took me to the Dove of the Desert too and I could have stayed there forever but dad and my step mother made me leave!!! HAHAHAHAHAA!!!!

Thanks again for any help you guys can offer.

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All I can tell you is that once established they will grow like weeds with high heat and no water. Personally, I hate those plants. 4 of them were already planted in my house, and they grew way too big, and are extremely difficult to eradicate, with very spiny branches and very deep roots that are impossible to remove in rocky soil. The cut off branches continued to sprout even after multiple round-up applications. I can't believe they actually sell those things in the stores!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 7:35PM
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Hi lornasgrandma2000,

I'm glad you enjoyed Tucson. It is easy to take for granted the mountains we see everyday. Thanks for making me "stop & smell the roses"! I have been so looking forward to our move to Fresno, CA that I've forgotten to appreciate what I do have to enjoy in the meantime. I sure hope you were able to catch one of our stunning sunsets.

As for your Mexican Bird of Paradise. First off, all Bird of Paradise are poisonous so you will want to keep small children and pets away from this plant.

Does your plant have yellow or red flowers? If they are red then you have a Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima). If they are yellow then you have a Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The common names for these plants are commonly mixed up. This info may help you in your quest for care info. I am assuming you actually have a Red BOP because these are the most common. Either way, the care for these two plants is virtually identical to my knowledge.

It will prefer a well drained soil so you will want to use a cactus & palm tree soil or add perlite to your soil. The best way to water this plant is with infrequent deep waterings. They do not tolerate frost well and when kept outside will need to be cut back after the winter. This plant can bloom year round if kept at the right temp! They require a lot of sunlight, so if it looks like it isn't doing well try giving it more light. They tolerate our full sun which means they can take your sun.

They are a very forgiving plant and will tolerate alot of substandard care, including being potted. This shrub can also be trained in to a Patio Tree. Or so I have heard, yet to see!

Good Luck!!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2006 at 5:55AM
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Mexican BOP is NOT poisonous. I've eaten the seeds (green) with no problems.

It's not going to survive an Illinois fall, let alone the winter. Treat it like a houseplant - a cactus - and it might survive the winter. Next spring you can put it out on a sunny porch in a pot and it should thrive.

The green fruit and seeds of Caesalpinia gilliesii can cause serious stomach and intestinal irritation if eaten. Symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and profuse diarrhea for about 24 hours. However, hulled green seeds of C. pulcherrima (the common dark orange one) are reputed to be edible with perhaps some medicinal value.

Here is a link that might be useful: BOP info

    Bookmark   September 16, 2006 at 8:26PM
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Hi All,
I must have the Red Bird of Paradise. As the wilting flower it had on it had a red look to it. I have it right now in a south window.
I grow hoya and violets generally so this bush is a new experience for me. But what I was going to say is that I've got all the hoya outside right now but in a month or so I'll have to bring them in to the plant room. I have lights on in there for 12 hours a day for the violets. Is that going to be enough for the bop???? I can leave it where it is but if there's a chance that it could hurt my grandkids then I'd prefer to move it since they can easily access it where it is now.
I repotted it into a mircle grow soil but I'll run and get catus soil for it after work tomorrow. I sure want it to have the soil it requires.
Pheitmeyer, I understand what your saying about hating these plants. There are some native plants around here I wish I could kill off for good too!!!! But I think we're use to what we have growing in the different regions we live in and when we venture out of those regions we see and fall in love with the native growth of that region.
At least that's what happened to me. I just dearly fell in love with this plant.
I do intend to cart it outside after the last frost of each spring around here. All I hope is that I treat it right during the winters. They can be long and harsh in Illinois.
I'm planning my next trip to Tucson. This time I'm taking a train!!! I really didn't enjoy the plane ride this time. Hated it infact.
But I really want to return and see more sites that I didn't have time for. I'd really like to see the Grand Canyon but my dad says he won't take me. He's been there so often that it's a bore to him!!! One of those region things I guess!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2006 at 1:13PM
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Hi Lazygardens,

I should have clarified, Mexican BOP is most certainly poisonous to pets. I just assumed it was a toxic plant in general. The ASPCA Animal Posion Contral Center (as well as many other organizations) has a list of plants toxic to animals and all BOP plants always make the list.

What is edible for humans may not be for dogs, like chocolate. So I would still be careful if you have any pets that may munch. It is truly a balancing act in my yard due to my dogs and my tortoise. It seems with most plants if it is safe for one it's not for the other. I had always assumed that because the flower of the Hibiscus was on every edible plant list for my tortoise that it would be safe for my dogs. Not true, the flowers are toxic to dogs. On another interesting note, most lilys are known to be toxic to cats but not dogs!

While my dogs do not tend to munch on my plants it is certainly not worth the risk considering that my 100 pound Doberman could survive eating a giant chocolate candy bar yet my 9 pound Minature Pinscher would have much more serious problems, possibly even death if not treated.

Hope this helps, I didn't me to provide wrong information and I apologize. I will be sure to speak more carefully in the future - thanks for correcting me! :-)

    Bookmark   September 17, 2006 at 2:54PM
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If you want to control the size of the BOP, plant the whole pot in the ground and treat it like you would any potted plant. Increase the container size for a larger specimen or keep it small. If your in a cold climate this will allow you to move the plant indoors with minimum of muss and fuss.They are not fussy about soil. They will grow in anything as long as it is not too wet and can dry out between waterings. I have then growing in heavy clay in my yard and potting soil on my patio. Full sun all day, the hotter the better.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 11:30AM
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I have mexican BOP seeds. when is the best time to plant
them? I live in phoenix

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 12:59PM
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Any of you here in Phx have yellow bottom leaves on your BOP? Is this a sign of overwatering? Underwatering? Mine look so ugly and leggy, too. Should I cut back sharply or wait until end of winter? I don't think they've been pruned in quite a while.

Thanks for any help!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 2:22AM
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Wait until the first sharp frost.

They like DEEP, infrequent watering. Soak them really good, then wait a month or more before watering again.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 7:07PM
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What's frost? :)

Thanks Lazygardens. Guess I should take them off the drip system, then, huh?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 2:10AM
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Hi all!
Just to clarify - there are THREE species of Caesalpinia that are commonly referred to as "Bird of Paradise" - all of them even sometimes referred to as "Mexican Bird of Paradise." They are as follows:

1) Caesalpinia pulcherima - "Red Bird of Paradise"; HOWEVER, keep in mind that there is a variety of this species with ALL yellow flowers ("Phoenix"), so color of flowers is not always a good indicator of species, particularly in the valley.

2) Caesalpinia mexicana - the "true" "Mexican Bird of Paradise". Smaller flowers, always yellow. Leaflets larger and rounder than in pulcherima. Flower spike narrower and 'spikier'.

3) Caesalpinia gillesi - "Yellow Bird of Paradise". Larger flowers with LONG red stamens that are far exerted. Leaflets small like in pulcherima.

Of course, there are a couple of other species of Caesalpinia that you will see in the Phoenix area from time to time - Caesalpinia cacalaco (Cascalote) & Caesalpinia platyloba (Palo Colorado).

The Cascalote is nice in that it is a winter bloomer here in the valley, and the Palo Colorado grows into a nice sized tree. Both have similar, spikey yellow blooms like C. mexicana.

Sometimes also seen is Caesalpinia pumilla (Coppery Caesalpinia).

Any of these species are really nice!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 1:58PM
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